Unwanted Valentines Flood Inboxes

Spam multiplied nearly 3 percent from December 2002 to January 2003, according to measurements from Brightmail, and a proliferation of Valentine’s Day attacks suggests another increase in February.

Brightmail blocked more than 1,500 spam attacks related to Valentine’s Day since January 24th, 2003, adding up to more than 1 million spam messages in 20 days. Unwanted Valentines fell into the following predictable categories:

  • Flowers and chocolates: 50 percent
  • Sexual performance enhancers: 20 percent
  • Lingerie: 10 percent
  • Dating/matchmaking services: 10 percent
  • Other Gifts (stuffed animals, jewelry, etc.): 10 percent

“Spammers are becoming more sophisticated and pervasive. Seasonally targeted spam is not uncommon, but Valentine’s related messages came in remarkably high volumes this year,” said Enrique Salem, president and CEO of Brightmail. “As spammers seek to tap consumer holiday spending, e-mail users, companies and service providers suffer a barrage of unwanted and potentially offensive messages.”

January 2003 Spam Category Data
Products 33%
Financial 24%
Adult 18%
Other 8%
Scams 5%
Health 4%
Leisure 3%
Internet 3%
Spiritual 2%
Source: Brightmail’s Probe Network

Brightmail defines the categories as follows:

  • Product-oriented messages advertise general goods or services.
  • Financial marketing messages are those that make reference to money, the stock market, credit reports, loans, and investments.
  • Adult-oriented spam refers to offerings for offensive or inappropriate material, intended for persons over the age of 18.
  • Scam messages contain fraudulent or intentionally misguiding content.
  • The health category offers health-related products or services, such as herbal remedies or medical treatments.
  • Leisure-related messages are those advertising prizes, awards, discounted travel, online games and casinos.
  • Internet- or computer-oriented e-mails are those that advertise related products or services, such as Web hosting, or design.
  • Spiritually oriented messages include offerings for psychics, organized religion, and astrology.
  • Miscellaneous messages do not pertain to any of the specified categories.

Unique Spam Attacks
January 2003 6,092,514
December 2002 5,915,062
November 2002 5,503,246
October 2002 5,352,325
September 2002 5,285,404
August 2002 5,065,858
July 2002 4,971,097
June 2002 4,825,144
May 2002 4,686,983
April 2002 4,339,799
March 2002 3,773,738
February 2002 3,187,430
January 2002 2,777,017
Source: Brightmail’s Probe Network

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